“Those people are gonna get sick,” Holt issues strict message to protesters who gathered together despite social distancing concerns

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As state leaders work to develop plans to reopen the state, city leaders in Oklahoma City say the area is not ready to open non-essential businesses just yet.

On Friday morning, data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that the state currently has 2,465 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

So far, officials say 136 Oklahoma patients have died and 541 people have been hospitalized. Currently, 325 patients are hospitalized across the state.

“By comparison to a normal virus, this is not going well. By comparison to what COVID-19 is capable of, it is going OK,” Holt said.

In last week, 14 residents from the metro have died as a result of COVID-19.

“Even with social distancing measures in place unlike anything we have seen since 1918, COVID-19 has moved swiftly through our city and exacted a heavy toll,” Holt said.

He says that compared to other cities, Oklahoma City has fared well.

“The numbers are encouraging,” Holt said.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said for the last eight days, the new case numbers in the metro have held in the 20 to 40 case range.

Although the numbers are not declining, but they seem to be at a plateau.

“Now is not the time to throw caution to the wind,” Dr. Patrick McGough, deputy director of Oklahoma City-County Health Department, said.

Holt says that while most health experts believe that Oklahoma’s healthcare system will be able to handle any surge of cases, leaders are now looking toward the future.

“A return to some normalcy must be gradual, and thoughtful, and respectful of the fact that this virus isn’t going anywhere,” Holt said.

Holt says that the state needs to increase testing, tracing, and quarantining in order to protect the public once the shelter-in-place orders are lifted.

“No matter what the proclamations say, people are not going to go out knowing that there is still a deadly virus without a vaccine or a cure working its way through our city,” Holt said.

Holt says that President Donald Trump asks that Oklahoma City not open back up until there is a 14-day period where symptoms are declining, as well as a 14-day period where cases are declining. Also, there must be a robust testing program in place and hospitals must be capable to handle any potential surge.

The mayor says city leaders will work together to come up with a plan in order to reopen the city.

However, he says that he knows there are people in the city who have COVID-19 but have not yet tested positive for the virus.

“The situation can turn on a dime if we’re not careful,” Holt added.

He encourages residents to not downplay the situation, adding that the virus is killing Americans across the country.

Earlier this week, a group called ‘OK Back 2 Work’ held a rally to urge state leaders to open up the state before April 30.

The group was planning to rally from inside their cars Wednesday. However, that turned into a gathering in the parking lot of Penn Square Mall in a group much larger than 10 people.

Mayor Holt had a tough message for those who gathered.

“When I see images like that, I think of the healthcare professionals on the front lines who are going out every day, in some cases, leaving their families for weeks at a time and putting their lives on the line and putting themselves in danger to take care of strangers. Those people are gonna get sick, especially if that behavior reflects their daily activity. I know that those brave and courageous public health professionals, who are actually brave and are actually courageous, are going to take care of those people just the same,” Holt said. “And I hope that weighs heavy on their heart when they do that kind of thing. People are getting sick and people are dying and people on the front lines are sacrificing everything for us, and we should sacrifice just a little for them.”

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